Maybe you've heard of or seen your ball python periscoping, lifting its head and neck to explore its area. Stargazing is very similar, except you will notice your ball python will do this for extended periods, which is often a symptom of illness or injury.
Continue reading below for detailed information on stargazing, the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available.
What Is Ball Python Stargazing?
Stargazing occurs when the cervical musculature of your ball python contracts, causing the head and neck to raise straight up. This looks as though your pet is gazing at the start, which is where the name comes from.
While it may seem innocent enough, maybe even confused with periscoping (which is an exploratory behavior in pythons), it is often a symptom of something more serious. If you see your ball python stargazing, you will want to seek veterinary treatment as soon as possible.
You can easily tell stargazing and periscoping apart by lying your python on its back. If it cannot turn itself over, then it is likely to be stargazing, your pet may even seem disorientated.
Other Symptoms To Look For
If you are concerned that your ball python is stargazing, then you will want to look for other symptoms, such as problems moving, disorientation, tremors, and seizures, along with it not being able to roll itself off its back to get back to a normal position.
Other symptoms that you may notice are lack of appetite, weight loss, skin problems, and vomiting.
The problem with ball pythons is that they can develop neurological problems very quickly, which means that there may not be other symptoms present when stargazing.
Could It Be Something Else?
When your ball python is stargazing, it will stare up at the sky for hours at a time, not just for a few seconds.
Pythons are known to lift their heads and necks when eating, helping them to get the food down their throats, this usually only lasts up to ten seconds or so and is not stargazing.
Periscoping is another way in which your ball python lifts its head and neck, this also only lasts a few seconds and is a way of exploring its surroundings. Stargazing is more obvious, lasting for extended periods, hours at a time.
Why Is My Ball Python Stargazing?
There are numerous reasons why your ball python may be stargazing. Remember stargazing is a symptom and not an illness on its own. Common causes of stargazing include:
Viral infections, which include paramyxovirus, will attack the respiratory, and neurological systems of your pet. Bacterial infections are also known to be responsible for stargazing in ball pythons. Septic infections can also be responsible.
Inclusion Body Disease (IBD) attacks the respiratory, neurological and gastrointestinal systems of pythons.
Major organ dysfunction can also be a cause of neurological problems, along with head injuries or trauma.
Toxins that can be found in cleaning products, mite sprays, and cleaning products can also cause neurological problems in your pet.
When your ball python is exposed to temperatures that are too hot or too cold, it will stargaze.
Remember to always monitor temperatures to ensure you keep them at optimum. A digital thermometer is useful, helping you monitor temperatures at a glance.
When you notice your ball python stargazing for hours a time, you will want to seek veterinarian diagnosis and treatment.
The vet will thoroughly examine your pet, taking a detailed medical history. They may do some diagnostic testing, such as x rays, blood work, and fecal examinations to identify the cause of the stargazing.
Bearing in mind that stargazing is only a symptom and not an illness on its own. Your vet will then put a treatment plan in place.
Treatment depends on the underlying cause and with so many causes, only the vet can really determine the exact cause.
If the vet identifies an infection as the cause of the stargazing, they will provide treatment for the infection. This can be parasitic, viral, and bacterial. The treatment is based on the infection your pet is currently fighting.
In the event your pet suffered an injury, veterinary treatment will be needed at once. If your python is stargazing due to a past injury you may not have even realized occurred. The vet will be able to identify and treat the injury to get your pet on the road to recovery.
Exposure to Toxins
If your ball python has been exposed to a toxic substance that has caused a neurological disorder, your vet will need to identify the toxin causing the problems.
Removing the toxic substance from the enclosure or not using it in the room where you keep the enclosure will get your pet back on the road to recovery.
Your ball python relies on external temperatures in order to regulate its own body temperature. When temperatures are too high or too low for extended periods, your pet will stargaze.
Ensure you monitor temperatures and keep them at optimum. You need to provide a warm and cool size to the enclosure, so your pet can move around and regulate its body temperature accordingly.
80ºF - 85ºF
75ºF - 80ºF
88ºF - 92ºF
Recovery will depend on the cause. If the condition. Unfortunately, if your pet has inclusion body disease it will not recover. Your vet will explain to you and identify if the best course of action is euthanasia. This is dependent on the severity of the condition.
It is very important to learn what stargazing is and how it differs from periscoping or eating. Stargazing is a symptom of illness or injury that needs veterinary care to diagnose and treat your pet.
The sooner you seek veterinary treatment, the sooner your pet can get on the road to recovery.